ONTD Political

Occupy SF: the teenager who was refused cancer treatment

3:54 pm - 10/29/2011
Miran Istina, 18, joined protests after four years of being denied life-saving bone marrow transplant for leukaemia


As Miran Istina puts it, she has been living on borrowed time since she was 14. Diagnosed with cancer, she was given just months to live after her health insurer refused to provide her with life-saving surgery.
Now 18, Istina, from the city of Sisters in Oregon, has spent the past three weeks living in a tent at the Occupy San Francisco protest and says she will stay there indefinitely, despite her illness.

She was inspired to take part in the protest by the refusal of her insurance company to pay for treatment for her chronic myelogenous leukaemia.

She said: "They denied me on the terms of a pre-existing condition. Seeing as I had only had that insurance for a few months, and I was in early stage two which meant I had to have had it for at least a year, they determined it was a pre-existing condition and denied me healthcare."

Treatment would require a bone marrow transplant and extensive radiation therapy and chemotherapy, at a cost of several hundreds of thousands of dollars. Coming from an ordinary middle-class background, her family has no way of paying for the surgery that would save her life.

Following her insurer's refusal, she spent three years travelling the US looking for a healthcare provider who would give her a chance at life.

Istina said: "I went all over the place, looking for someone to give a damn, really, someone to care enough to treat me. Because we were middle class, we couldn't afford to treat my disease. We'd be in debt for the rest of our family life."

After repeated refusals to offer her treatment, she said: "I decided I was going to spend the rest of my life doing whatever my heart wants."

The Occupy movement attracted Istina as she ties the corporate influence on American politics to the decision that has sentenced her to death.

She said: "The corporate influence on politics influences just about anything that happens, seeing as politicians write the plans that healthcare has to follow. It directly links the fact that insurers only pick and choose those who are actually worth it [financially]. I just happen to not be one of the ones they wanted to be around much longer.

"The decision was absolutely influenced by some corporation or some bank saying, 'we can't afford her. She's not worth our money.' In end terms, corporate greed is going to cost me my life.

"I used to be really upset about it. I'm not as much any more. I'm angry, for sure, but I think me being here might help it never happen again. That's why I'm here. It's that there are other people this is going to happen to if this movement doesn't succeed and that's not healthy. I'm done being the victim. However long I have left is dedicated heart and soul to this movement, no matter what it takes."

She has immersed herself in the movement, becoming the chief media relations officer for Occupy SF and organising fundraising events around the city. On Thursday afternoon she led a CNN television crew on a walk through the camp, to show how they were living, explain their motives and refute claims that the living conditions are unsanitary.

She said of her new life: "My heart is finally satisfied."

The Occupy San Francisco movement has seen up to 300 protesters take over the Justin Herman Plaza, at the Embarcadero in the downtown district since October 5.

The occupiers are given food by local restaurants and have received donations from supporters to provide supplies.

Health professionals from the San Francisco General Hospital are providing round-the-clock care for Istina, who needs strong pain killers and constant monitoring of her condition. Earlier in the month she suffered a kidney malfunction which required urgent hospital treatment.

Throughout the afternoon four police officers kept a watchful eye over the groups of tents and makeshift shelters but the atmosphere was relaxed. When the officers staged a walk-through some of the occupiers shared jokes with them. One said: "Please leave the automatic weapons outside the camp. This is a peaceful protest."

Another said: "We're not doing any harm. We're just a bunch of peace-loving hippies."

But a raid on the camp is possible at any time. San Francisco mayor Ed Lee has repeatedly insisted that the camp is illegal and all tents should be removed but so far little has been done to enforce the law.

He has threatened a raid and on Wednesday night occupiers expected police to move in, sparking a larger than normal demonstration. Two candidates for the upcoming mayoral election joined with the protesters but despite the presence nearby of riot police, the raid did not go ahead.

What does OWS want? We want an end to a system that allows THIS.

Source is the Guardian
24_24_1_1526 love this!30th-Oct-2011 03:45 am (UTC)
i want to hug her, kiss her cheeks, and slap anyone who dares to cry 'bootstraps' at her!

kitanabychoice Re: love this!30th-Oct-2011 04:08 am (UTC)
I'm so with you on this. ♥
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yamamanama 30th-Oct-2011 04:07 am (UTC)
I've noticed that people don't mind if they pay through their asses, as long as they aren't paying the government.
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xvisqueux 30th-Oct-2011 03:48 am (UTC)
Good for her, I hope this article reaches more people.
messy_hair 30th-Oct-2011 04:13 am (UTC)
I agree. I also hope this article will get people to help. I know if there was a site or place to help her (like for donations) I'd do it right away.
lastrega 30th-Oct-2011 05:49 am (UTC)
I had an argument with a random American guy in a restaurant in Hong Kong the other week who tried to tell me they had the "best healthcare in the world"...

It was all I could do not to throw soup on him.

The system that allows people to die like this is beyond immoral.
sillysallyfckup 30th-Oct-2011 07:20 am (UTC)
It was (sickeningly) built that way on purpose. This system, I mean. We may have some of the best resources for the sickly rich, but it's a compassionless system for anyone who doesn't have money they could literally burn without feeling a loss.
aisasami 30th-Oct-2011 06:32 am (UTC)
Does Cali not have a state run healthcare who get denied because of pre-existence conditions? Maryland has one. My friend had to go on it after she got kick off her health plan for kidney cancer. It's awful, yes, but glad the state helped her with her treatment and her new kidney.
deathchibi 30th-Oct-2011 06:58 am (UTC)
Texas does, but sadly asthma is not one of the conditions they list as being qualifying so I'm really hosed and praying to god I never get anything more serious or cancer.
romp 30th-Oct-2011 07:04 am (UTC)
They denied me on the terms of a pre-existing condition.
Kill a kid to save money! Getting the US public to fight universal healthcare was one of the most amazing cons ever.
rayiroth 30th-Oct-2011 07:53 am (UTC)
Coming from an ordinary middle-class background, her family has no way of paying for the surgery that would save her life

This is just jarring for me. In my mind I always associated "middle class" with being "safe". Meanwhile in the other side of the world, this is the fear the middle class are in.

Just awful.
pandaseal 30th-Oct-2011 01:02 pm (UTC)
It's odd, for sure. I know I worry about what in the world I'm going to do when I finish school, because right now living far below the poverty line is only reason I have access to insurance. It's not an uncommon situation./csb

It's a great system where even if you drag yourself up to that middle class life, like you're supposed to, you're still totally fucked.

Edited at 2011-10-30 01:02 pm (UTC)
ishachan 30th-Oct-2011 12:17 pm (UTC)
This article just highlights the hypocrisy of it all. This girl is dying because her insurance won't cover treatment but if someone is pregnant everyone is al rushing to convince the woman that life is sacred and she can't abort her baby. George Carlin got it right. If you're unborn you're sacred if you're already born you're fucked. It's shit like what that girl in the article is going through why people are occupying wallstreet.
chrys20 30th-Oct-2011 02:31 pm (UTC)
This is so cruel and even with knowledge of American history I don't understand how it could come to this. That, as you said, the living sick are considered worthless but an unborn child is sacred.
fatpie42 30th-Oct-2011 03:19 pm (UTC)
Hmmph she should get a job. Doesn't she know that working for menial wages until you drop dead from untreated cancer is the American dream?

(Important!: Point of reference for sarcastic comment here.)
replyhazy 30th-Oct-2011 04:16 pm (UTC)
Can we please take her to a Republican presidential debate and see what they have to say when they meet her?
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roseofjuly 30th-Oct-2011 04:23 pm (UTC)
Diagnosed with cancer, she was given just months to live after her health insurer refused to provide her with life-saving surgery.


She said: "They denied me on the terms of a pre-existing condition. Seeing as I had only had that insurance for a few months, and I was in early stage two which meant I had to have had it for at least a year, they determined it was a pre-existing condition and denied me healthcare."

This is EXACTLY why, for all its faults, we need the Occupy movements. Because a middle-class family shouldn't have to give up hope that they can beat a treatable cancer. There is no reason why, in this wealthy and prosperous nation - with banks posting billions in profits - this young woman, and others like her, should not have their conditions treated. I am ashamed and appalled to live in a country where the few wealthy have been allowed to decide that poor and middle-class people shouldn't be allowed/able to fight serious illness, and that basically if you don't have the money, you can just die.

THIS, stories like this, are exactly why I want to get into health policy work when I'm midcareer, after some years of service as a researcher (also will be used to fight this shit). I used to be kind of hopeless, or talk about leaving, but I ain't leaving shit. I'm staying my ass right here and I'm fighting this shit. Because this is ridiculous.

Blessings to Istina, and I hope she's feeling at peace and happy right now. And I hope to God something changes - maybe first for her, and then on the large-scale for everyone else who is suffering like her.
jwaneeta 30th-Oct-2011 06:03 pm (UTC)
Much respect to you.
hammersxstrings 30th-Oct-2011 06:13 pm (UTC)
well she probably shouldn't have gotten cancer then, or worked illegally, under the table for 15 hours a day in a sweatshop so she could afford healtcare BOOTSTRAPS BLAHBLAHBLAHBLAH

poor girl :(
sephirajo 30th-Oct-2011 07:23 pm (UTC)
....This girl deserves to live. I hate when insurance companies try to pull that 'well, you obviously had this BEFORE we covered you' bullshit.

If I had the money I'd pay for her treatment myself. She's too young to have to have worried about crap like this, and that's the entire point as to what's wrong with the system.
celtic_thistle 31st-Oct-2011 02:12 am (UTC)
See, this is FUCKING WRONG. This is what happens when you buy and sell healthcare--a HUMAN RIGHT.
robertsloan2 31st-Oct-2011 09:29 pm (UTC)
Thank you for posting this. Please thank Miran Istina in person for me if you see her. She is a brave, resourceful, powerful woman whom I respect so much for her stand. I want her and everyone there to know that I do care.

I'm glad SF General Hospital is treating her and helping her. That's the clinic I go to, now I feel even better about my clinic. If I had any money I'd pitch in for her surgery to keep her alive - please, write to the President too, write and tell him about her. He's been known to help people out of pocket sometimes and he may be able to use this story to support health care reform.
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